USA Ultimate Receives Recognition From US Olympic Committee

USA Ultimate has been formally recognized by the US Olympic Committee. The recognition opens up many doors in the sports world and does lay the foundation for any possible inclusion in the Olympic Games in the future.

USOC Multisport Organization.NEW YORK — USA Ultimate has been granted membership in the United States Olympic Committee as a Recognized Sports Organization under the umbrella of Multisport Organizations. After presenting at a public hearing in late April, USA Ultimate was formally recognized on June 10th at the USOC Board of Directors meeting.

“The USOC is one of the pre-eminent organizations in all of sport and we are very proud of this relationship,” said USAU Board of Directors President Mike Payne. “This is one of the most important things to happen to our great sport in its 46-year history and further validates ultimate as one of the nation’s emerging sports.”

Indeed, this is a major achievement for USA Ultimate as the governing body looks to further legitimize the sport in the United States and lay the groundwork for potential inclusion in the Olympic program in the future. It is also a vital step as the World Flying Disc Federation looks to move from provisional International Olympic Committee recognition to full recognition in 2015.

“The USOC is considered one of, if not the, premier olympic committee in the world,” USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford told Ultiworld. “It’s a very important step for WFDF and their bid to get full recognition from the IOC.”

Getting recognized required a two-year, rigorous process, including dozens of meetings between USAU and USOC officials and a lengthy, detailed application. USOC is careful about the due diligence process.

“They grilled us,” said Crawford. “They want to know if we are a legitimate national organization.”

USA Ultimate joins the Multisport Organization Council, which includes many major programs including the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club along with some other sports organizations. Crawford emphasized just how important it was to join the USOC.

“When we get calls from kids now that want to start a high school program, and their athletic director says, ‘Oh, that’s not a sport,’ now we can say, ‘No, that’s not true. We are recognized by the US Olympic Committee,'” said Crawford, adding, “It totally legitimizes us as a sport because of the family we are now a part of.”

The United States becomes the 11th country to have its ultimate governing body recognized by the government’s Olympic Committee. The countries already recognized are Chinese Taipei, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

“We are extremely excited to hear the news about the formal recognition of USA Ultimate, WFDF’s largest member association, by the United States Olympic Committee,” said WFDF President Robert “Nob” Rauch. “This is an important acknowledgement of the successful role USAU plays in organizing the entire gamut of Ultimate events in the US from elite competition to grass roots development.  It is also another confirmation from the Olympic Movement that our focus on ‘spirit of the game’ is seen as a selling point and not a hindrance to acceptance in the world of sport.”

WFDF’s full recognition will be put to a vote at the 128th IOC session in Kuala Lumpur in late July and early August 2015.

This step is a prerequisite for any potential inclusion in a future Summer Olympic Games. While this by no means guarantees that ultimate will become an Olympic sport — there are many barriers for new sports to cross — it does position the sport well if the head of the IOC decides to open the Olympics up to more sports in the future.

“We are positioned really, really well for what they are looking for: sports that are growing, sports that are popular with the younger generation, and sports that are different,” said Crawford.

RELATED: With Provisional IOC Recognition, WFDF Pushing Ultimate Slowly Towards Olympics

Perhaps more important in the short term is the increased likelihood of Ultimate making its way into the Pan American Games or other major International tournaments that are not as restrictive as the Olympic Games.

Ultimate is also much more likely to land on the list of sports options at organizations like the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, which could begin to accelerate growth at the youth levels.

“Most people I speak with in ultimate believe that we pursued this recognition with only the goal of being an Olympic sport in mind, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Payne. “When and if that ever happens, it will be great, but the more important benefits are the visibility that being a proud member of the USOC brings and the programs the USOC members provide to help accelerate growth of the sport from the bottom up, starting with kids.”

  1. Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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